TitleThe direct and indirect effects of temperature on a predator-prey relationship
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsAnderson, MT, Kiesecker, JM, Chivers, DP, Blaustein, AR
JournalCanadian Journal of Zoology-Revue Canadienne De Zoologie
Type of ArticleJournal Article

Abiotic factors may directly influence community structure by influencing biotic interactions. In aquatic systems, where gape-limited predators are common, abiotic factors that influence organisms' growth rates potentially mediate predator-prey interactions indirectly through effects on prey size. We tested the hypothesis that temperature influences interactions between aquatic size-limited insect predators (Notonecta kirbyi) and their larval anuran prey (Hyla regilla) beyond its indirect effect on prey size. Notonecta kirbyi and H. regilla were raised and tested in predator-prey trials at one of three experimentally maintained temperatures, 9.9, 20.7, or 25.7 degreesC. Temperature strongly influenced anuran growth and predator success; mean tadpole mass over time was positively related to temperature, while the number of prey caught was negatively related. At higher temperatures tadpoles attained greater mass more quickly, allowing them to avoid capture by notonectids. However, the probability of capture is a function of both mass and temperature; temperature was a significant explanatory variable in a logistic regression equation predicting prey capture. For a given prey mass, tadpoles raised in warmer water experienced a higher probability of capture by notonectids. Thus, rather than being static, prey size refugia are influenced directly by abiotic factors, in this case temperature. This suggests that temperature exerts differential effects on notonectid and larval anurans, leading to differences in the probability of prey capture for a given prey mass. Therefore, temperature can influence predator-prey interactions via indirect effects on prey size and direct effects on prey.

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